When Ellie joins a softball team, she quickly realizes that the sport is harder than it looks! Is she meant only for the stage, not the field? And what happens when Ellie goes searching in the woods near the field for a stray ball and finds an injured baby deer?!
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Critter Club chapter books are perfect for beginning readers!
Read an Excerpt
Ellie Steps Up to the Plate
Ellie rolled over in her sleeping bag. She opened her eyes, blinked, and squinted. A shelf full of books came into focus. She read the titles on their spines:
Horses in Ancient Times
Speaking Your Horse’s Language
100 Amazing Horseback Riding Trails
Ellie remembered where she was. She, Liz, and Amy had all slept over at Marion’s house! It was one of their Friday-night sleepovers.
Ellie sat up and looked around Marion’s room. Sunlight peeked in through the curtains. Marion still had her sleep mask over her eyes. Across the room, Liz was snoring. Amy was in a sleeping bag right next to Ellie’s.
“Psssst,” Ellie whispered into Amy’s ear. “Are you awake?”
Amy stirred. But she didn’t wake up.
Boring, thought Ellie. It was no fun to be the first one awake. She reached into her backpack. I guess I’ll use the time to practice my song.
Later that afternoon, Ellie was going to audition for a solo in her youth chorus. She looked over the music and sang quietly to herself.
Out there in the dark,
I’m gonna let it shine. . . .
Ellie sang it over and over again. She closed her eyes as she sang. She imagined herself singing it perfectly for the choral director, Mr. Lewis. She imagined getting the solo! Then she imagined standing out front when the chorus performed the song at their next concert.
“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!” Ellie sang, putting some feeling into it.
Marion sat up in bed. “Does it have to shine so loudly?” she said sleepily.
Amy rolled over and opened one eye. “Yeah,” she mumbled. “I was wondering that too.”
Ellie clapped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry! Sorry! I was trying to sing quietly,” she whispered.
Liz unzipped her sleeping bag and crawled out. “The first three times were quiet-ish,” Liz said. “The last few times . . . not so much.”
“Oops,” Ellie said sheepishly.
The four girls laughed.
“Well, we are all awake now,” Marion pointed out. “So what’s this song you’re practicing?” She looked at the clock. “At seven thirteen? On a Saturday morning?”
Ellie explained excitedly about her audition later that day. “If I do well,” she said, “I’ll be a soloist at the concert next month.”
Amy’s eyes went wide. “The big concert at the Santa Vista Music Hall?” she asked. “The one that always sells out?”
“Yeah, that one!” Ellie exclaimed, clapping.
Marion sat on the floor. “I’d bet they get hundreds of people at that concert,” she said. “That doesn’t make you nervous at all, does it?”
Ellie shrugged. “Not really,” she replied.
“Our fearless Ellie!” Liz said proudly. “Good for you!”
Ellie laughed. Being onstage just felt . . . exciting. She had always loved performing. The bigger the audience, the better!